Combined Reviews: Hill of Grace by Stephen Orr

hillofgrace.jpg Reviews of Hill of Grace by Stephen Orr.

The blurb attached to this novel, and reprinted on the publisher's website, states: "1951. Among the coppiced carob trees and arum lilies of the Barossa Valley, old-school Lutheran William Miller lives a quiet life with his wife, Bluma, and son Nathan, making wine and baking bread. But William has a secret. He's been studying the Bible and he's found what a thousand others couldn't: the date of the Apocalypse."

In the hands of a lot of novelists such a premise would be groan-worthy in the extreme. Peter Pierce, writing in "The Bulletin" finds that Orr moves beyond the obvious: "One of Orr's achievements is to re-imagine a region of the country with its distinctive food, climate, religious observances and memories of bitter schisms, history and prejudices. Yet it cannot dissociate itself from the mainstream of Australian life. In South Australia, this is the supposedly somnolent era of the Playford government and the building of the satellite town of Elizabeth, of a parochialism feeling the prickly hallenges of a larger, scarcely known world...Besides this, and harder still, Orr succeeds in enlisting our emotional, if hardly our intellectual sympathy for a narrow-minded, but kind and resolute man, a fanatic in salvation's cause. Hill of Grace tackles the obstacle of an author's second novel with aplomb. Orr's book contains a broad but
unobtrusive social history besides an intelligent, unhurried and incisive plumbing of kinds of intense, but very different yearning."

Similarly, James Ley in "The Age", puts foward a view that Orr will be someone to watch: "Hill of Grace has many strong points. Orr has an appealing and empathetic approach to his characters. It is also encouraging to see a writer vary his style in an attempt to find a third way between the two poles of standard no-frills prose and the florid, overheated variety that tends to dominate contemporary 'literary' fiction."

Cath Kenneally (producer of Writers' Radio; a nationally-distributed weekly books and writing program for the Community Broadcasting Network), considered the novel to be one of her books of the year: "His prose lovingly packed with particulars, Orr's characters assume poignant life as modernity and old-time religion go head to head in a wonderful period portrait."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 18, 2005 9:13 AM.

Weekend Round-Up Notes was the previous entry in this blog.

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